WASHINGTON — Republican members appeared shocked by what their leadership agreed to allow into the omnibus bill.
“Part of this entire bill is blindsiding everybody. This was negotiated by four people and not even the committees had a say of what was going on,” Utah Republican Rep. [crscore]Rob Bishop[/crscore] told The Daily Caller Thursday afternoon.
“This is the wrong way of doing things and the nice thing about [crscore]Paul Ryan[/crscore] is he said, ‘I’m not going to do this crap again.’ That’s a positive statement. Everybody is blindsided by everything,” Bishop added.
The omnibus, which includes a provision that quadruples H2B visas for foreign workers, will be voted on Friday. The Daily Caller asked GOP House members their thoughts of the measure immediately following the news of its inclusion on Wednesday and most did not know about it.
An H2B visa is for temporary work for foreign workers. It offers seasonal non-agricultural employment in the United States and is available to nationals of countries designated by the Secretary of Homeland Security. The program is currently capped at 66, 000 visas offered each year.
Iowa Republican Rep. [crscore]Steve King[/crscore] told Iowa Radio Thursday morning he will vote against the $1.1 trillion omnibus bill.
“I’m a definite no,” King said. “At the last minute nobody announced that they were going to slip into the omnibus spending bill an additional 198,000 H2B visas.”
King explained, “Work that they say Americans don’t want to do and meanwhile, you know, we’ve got 94.6 million Americans who are of working age simply not in the workforce and another 9 or 10 million that are on unemployment and, still, they can’t do the logical thing and hire people off of welfare or unemployment and put them into the workforce,” King said. “You get a two-fer when you do that. You stop having to pay them not to do something and you get to pay them for doing something.”
King proposed nine different amendments intended to defund a number of federal programs, including the U.S. nuclear deal with Iran. However, all nine amendments were rejected in committee.
When asked about the inclusion of the H2B visa measure on Thursday by a reporter at his weekly presser, House Speaker Paul Ryan defended the process insisting that it was approved by the full Appropriations Committee in July and developed with the Judiciary Committee.
“I think these things kinda’ happen at the end with these bills. This policy went through the committee process. This policy was passed by the full Appropriations Committee in July, with consultation and approval by the House Judiciary Committee,” Ryan said.
He explained, “So if you have any questions about the substance of the proposal, I’ll refer you to the Judiciary Committee. But this has been out there for a long time. Our members had listening sessions with the appropriators, all during the construction of this bill itself… This passed the House Appropriations Committee in July, with the House Judiciary Committee, working with that committee. So if you have any questions, I’d refer you those guys. The whole point of this, I want committees driving the process, I want committees writing the legislation, and that’s what happened here.”
However, North Carolina Republican Rep. [crscore]Mark Meadows[/crscore], a member of the Freedom Caucus, told reporters the H2B visa measure was inserted without going through the usual process. Meadows said he is getting the biggest response from constituents on the H2B visa issue so far and many are quick to blame Speaker Ryan for its inclusion in the bill.
“A lot of us are troubled that language got put in there without going through the normal process and if I’ve heard anything at all changing that language and trying to figure out who changed the language and whose issue that was, because I don’t believe it was Speaker Ryan’s,” Meadows said. “So when you start looking at that language and how that was changed I think that’s troubling that you have to look through 2000 pages to find a few dates that were changed that would affect immigration policy.”
Fellow Freedom Caucus member Virginia Republican Rep. [crscore]Dave Brat[/crscore] was taken aback by the H2B visa inclusion and responded to Ryan’s assertion that the provision was available for all to see.
“I didn’t know about it. It seemed like a shocker to most of us. And again, it seemed like that issue was the most sensitive that the voters want to be in on. Immigration, migration, national security,” Brat told TheDC, later noting he did not know which committee it came through because the measure never came to the floor.